By Jonathan Saenz
Courtesy of COD athletics.
College of the Desert basketball season has officially started. Both men’s and women’s teams began their 2017-2018 season in early November. Although these teams have come up short in their first couple of games, the coaches and players have high hopes for the remainder of the season.
Coach Henry Viveros is leading the Roadrunners men’s basketball team for 12th consecutive year. Coach Viveros is accompanied by assistant coaches Ken Simonds and Jerome Richardson. Coming off last years unfortunate season of 4-22, COD men’s basketball is looking for a turn around.
“Phil Salawa (sophomore) and Shaquille Russell (sophomore) were two of our leading scores from last season and we expect that to continue.” said coach Viveros. These two players are projected to make a big impact this season. Coach Viveros added, “Both have been fighting injuries so we will hope they can get healthy soon.”
The COD men’s basketball team has a roaster of 13 players with only three active sophomores. When asked whether coaching a younger team is more challenging, coach Viveros said, “I feel it is always an advantage to lead a team of sophomores, but a team that is tough enough to work hard and continue keeping a positive attitude when faced with adversity is a team that will find success.”
Not only is this team younger, they also do not have the height advantage. The tallest player on the team is freshmen Mark Burke listed as 6’6 Forward. According to the roster, COD men’s basketball does not have a listed Center. “We are a small team, so we will play fast and spread the floor.” said coach Viveros, commenting on how the team’s size affects their style of play. “We try to use our size as an advantage and bring the other team’s size away from the basket.” coach Viveros continued.
With an unsuccessful first few games, they are looking to stick to their strategy. “We are not looking to make significant changes after coming up short.” said coach Viveros.
Leading the women Roadrunners is coach Skip Parry, accompanied by his assistant coaches Danielle Walker and Hana Qaqi.
Women’s COD basketball has started the season 0-4, losing twice in the Mt. Sac Tip Off Classic and twice in the PCC President’s Roundball Classic. “It was first exposure for a lot of our young [players], against a team that’s very very good and pressured us to make a lot of turnovers, so we want to minimize those.” said coach Parry. “If we minimize the turnovers, shoot better, that combination should get us closer to wins than loses.” coach Parry continued.
A few impact players to look out for this season are Jada Tolend (sophomore), Mercedes Young (sophomore), Julie Rodriguez (freshmen) and Vanessa Madera (freshmen). According to coach Parry, the have three captains, Jada Tolend, Mercedes Young and Keira Duran who is “a new arrival, she’s coming from volleyball.” said coach Parry.
The qualities these team captains must have is, “Leadership, the ability to communicate my desires and my instructions to the team, making sure there’s follow up and follow through.” said coach Parry. He’s his hoping his captains can effectively lead this team in the right direction.
As far as getting these players to commit to COD, coach Parry said, “Every year for the past six years we’ve had a girls high school summer league [at COD].” This has allowed the women’s basketball coaching staff to scout some of the best players in the Coachella Valley. “We try to recruit out of the area impact athletes to come here but it’s tough because we don’t offer housing, we don’t offer transportation, really the only thing we can offer [players] is priority registration.” coach Parry continued.
COD women’s basketball has had a tough start, but with some promising players in rotation, coach Parry is hopeful for a winning season.